Jazz Audition Repertoire

Prescreening video submissions are required of all Jazz applicants as part of the online Embark application by December 1, 2021. 

Please read the following audition guidelines carefully:

  • NEC will return to a live audition format for Fall 2022 auditions. We will offer flexibility to applicants who are unable to travel to Boston due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. 

  • Applicants to the Bachelor of Music, Tufts/NEC Five-Year Dual-Degree, Master of Music, and Graduate Diploma will be offered equal consideration for both recorded auditions and in-person auditions to accommodate applicants who are unable to travel. All application materials will be the same for in-person and recorded auditions.

  • Due to the selective nature of our Doctor of Musical Arts, Harvard/NEC Five-Year Dual-Degree, and Artist Diploma programs, applicants to these programs must present a live audition on campus.

Please read the recording guidelines below for prescreening and final recorded auditions.

Audition Repertoire Guidelines

Jazz Performance Prescreening

Jazz Performance Instrumental Prescreening

Applicants should perform the following from memory:

  1. Choose one of the following pieces: Hot House (Tadd Dameron), Confirmation (Charlie Parker), Donna Lee (Charlie Parker/Miles Davis), Virgo (Mary Lou Williams), Anthropology (Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker), Groovin’ High (Dizzy Gillespie), Ornithology (Charlie Parker/Benny Harris), Moose the Mooche (Charlie Parker), or Four in One (Thelonious Monk). Play (or scat sing for vocalists) the melody, unaccompanied and without improvising, once through at a medium swing tempo without the aid of a metronome or click track. Be sure to demonstrate your sound, rhythmic precision, swing feel, and technical facility. Drummers should communicate the rhythm and pitch contour of the melody as clearly as possible. Pianists may play the melody in octaves or as a single line (without chordal accompaniment).

  2. Perform one jazz standard with a live rhythm section 

  3. Perform one additional piece of your choice of contrasting tempo to the chosen jazz standard. The additional piece should be played with a live rhythm section and demonstrate your improvisational ability 

Jazz Performance Voice Prescreening

  1. An unaccompanied performance of the melody of any jazz standard (not a twelve-bar blues) in a medium swing tempo. The melody should be performed without the aid of a metronome, click track, or other accompaniment. Sing one chorus of the melody only. Songs with lyrics should be sung in English; instrumental compositions may be sung using scat syllables. You are welcome to add your own melodic and rhythmic interpretation to the song.
  2. Perform one piece of your choice with live rhythm section.
  3. Optional (and encouraged for graduate applicants): Perform one of the following pieces: Hot House (Tadd Dameron), Confirmation (Charlie Parker), Donna Lee(Charlie Parker/Miles Davis), Anthropology (Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker), Groovin’ High (Dizzy Gillespie), Ornithology (Charlie Parker/Benny Harris), Moose the Mooche (Charlie Parker), or Four in One (Thelonious Monk). Scat the melody, unaccompanied, once through at a medium swing tempo without the aid of a metronome or click track.

A live rhythm section should be used for the accompanied pieces, however, if it is not possible to record yourself playing with a full rhythm section (piano/guitar, bass and drums), come as close as you can to that form of accompaniment.

NEC encourages applicants to submit diverse repertoire, including works composed by women, people from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and/or musicians from one's own cultural background

Jazz Performance Live Auditions

All applicants invited for live auditions should be prepared to perform from memory and improvise on the following:

  1. Two jazz standards, contrasting in tempo
  2. One additional piece of your choice

Pieces performed for the live audition should differ from those included on the prescreening recording. A rhythm section including piano, bass, and drums will be provided for live auditions. Applicants must provide 3 lead sheets for the musicians. You will also be asked to identify chords, sing and play back melodic phrases, and sight-read.

Live Audition Dates

Sunday, February 6, 2022 - Jazz Bass & Jazz Guitar

Saturday, February 12, 2022 - Jazz Composition & Jazz Piano

Sunday, February 13, 2022 - Jazz Brass

Monday, February 21, 2022 - Jazz Saxophone 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 - Jazz Voice

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - Jazz Percussion & other 

Jazz Composition

Submit three or four scores in PDF format, with accompanying audio recordings if possible. While original compositions are preferred, one arrangement or recomposition may be included. In addition, applicants to the Jazz Composition major should submit an audition recording, performing from memory and improvising on the following:

  1. One jazz standard
  2. One original composition, contrasting in tempo from the chosen jazz standard.

A live rhythm section should be used, if at all possible.

NEC encourages applicants to submit diverse repertoire, including works composed by women, people from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and/or musicians from one's own cultural background.

Final Recorded Auditions (video only)

Applicants who choose to submit final recorded auditions must still submit prescreening requirements as part of the online application. Applicants who pass the prescreening round will be invited to submit a final recorded audition. Final recorded auditions are due by February 1, and all other application and supporting materials, including prescreening, are due by December 1. We will not review recordings submitted without a completed application.

Repertoire requirements for the final recorded audition:

  1. Two jazz standards, contrasting in tempo
  2. Two additional pieces, contrasting in tempo, of your choice

Pieces performed should differ from those included on the prescreening recording. A live rhythm section should be used for the recorded audition.